Cathedral High School leaders said in a June 2019 letter that Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis “made it clear” that the school’s “continued employment of a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage would result in our forfeiting our Catholic identity due to our employment of an individual living in contradiction to Catholic teaching on marriage.”
“Therefore, in order to remain a Catholic Holy Cross School, Cathedral must follow the direct guidance given to us by Archbishop Thompson and separate from the teacher,” said the letter, signed by Matt Cohoat, chairman of Cathedral High School’s board of directors, and Rob Bridges, the school’s president.
Archdiocesan policy states that Catholic schools must clearly state in their contracts and job descriptions that teachers must uphold and support the teachings of the Church in their lives.
In June 2019, the archdiocese said of teachers that “it is their duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching.”
Archbishop Thompson has emphasized that Payne-Elliott was not fired for having same-sex attraction, but for entering into a same-sex marriage. The matter, he said in 2019, “is about public witness of Church teaching on the dignity of marriage as one man and one woman. That is our Church teaching.”
“In this particular case we’re dealing with, those are ministers in our Church. Teachers, guidance counselors, other leaders, leaders of the schools and other leaders in the archdiocese are bound to live out these principles,” he said.